I loved the teacher that came up with the original version of this assignment. She was so passionate, and her desire to change the world rubbed off on her students. She was also very lucky to be near retirement as many changes began to occur in how the public perceived us educators. She didn't worry that her passion might offend some of the parents. She also failed to realize that there's sometimes more to a story, even if your favorite non-profit released that story.
Her paper was the story behind the product. Students were encouraged to uncover the seedy underbelly of corporate America in order to affect change, eliminate world poverty, and stuff like that. The problem was that students were coming into the Writing Center with papers claiming these huge companies were evil and their employees were only making a dollar a day. When I asked how much the average citizen in the country made, they didn't know. When I suggested paying employees $100 a day might double or triple the cost of the item, they weren't sure they'd buy. It's complicated.
This assignment attempts to capture some of the passion of the original assignment, but it is seasoned with reality. The reality of being a real consumer and possible future employee. This assignment is more about the story behind each company's impact on the world, good and bad, and it's therefore kind of about our own impact on the world because of how we react to such a company.
The assignment was written before we went to a six traits rubric, but that could be applied. I've included an assignment that makes students think and an outline that could probably support a 30-page paper, even though the assignment is for a 4-5 page paper. Make some changes, maybe work with social studies to really understand the implications better.
Also includes a Fortune 500 analysis handout.